New Zealand High Commission Honiara, Solomon Islands
Head of Mission's ANZAC Day 2010 Requiem
We gather to remember.
Here, in Port Moresby and Port Vila and across the Pacific, in New Zealand, Australia, on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and around the world, we come together on ANZAC Day to recall the deeds of the Anzacs - the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
ANZAC Day is the day when the people of Australia and New Zealand remember their countrymen, fallen in time of war. It is a time to recognise the sacrifice of those who served us all.
This day marks the anniversary of the day in 1915 when soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the beaches of Gallipoli. Australia’s young soldiers went ashore first. Late in the morning the New Zealanders landed to support their Australian comrades. The Australians had already suffered terrible casualties.
Although they entered separately, the mayhem on the beaches meant that the New Zealanders melded with the Australians so you couldn’t tell one from another. Thus began the tradition of ANZAC.
As one young New Zealand soldier described the scene:
“Upturned boats, gear of all description, and dead men littering the beach - the noise - one continuous roar of rifle and shellfire mingled with the cries of the wounded and dying”
During the eight month campaign New Zealand lost over 2,700 men killed and thousands more were wounded or fell to illness. The Australians lost over 8100 in the Dardanelles campaign and those who we fought alongside – the British, the French and the Indian units - also suffered appalling losses.
It is appropriate too that we also acknowledge the sacrifice of the Turks who were at Gallipoli defending their homeland.
We commemorate today no military triumph - but the more humbling triumph of human valour. The courage and endurance of those who did their duty at Gallipoli remains a vivid memory and a source of pride to every Australian and New Zealander.
We do not seek to glorify war, rather we reflect on the contribution made by those who have fought in them, to our way of life today.
And these dawn ceremonies have become more than just a tribute to those who fought in the campaign at Gallipoli, they have become a tribute to the sacrifice made by all those who have served in times of war: the First and Second World Wars, and other conflicts, including Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Bosnia and East Timor.
Here in Solomon Islands, ANZAC Day also gives us the opportunity to remember the contribution of Solomon Islanders during the Second World War. For it was in the Solomon Islands campaign that the advance of tyranny was first halted, and then turned back. We should, in our thoughts today, also remember those who lost their lives here in Solomon Islands.
The Pacific campaign is often described as New Zealand’s “forgotten war”, however the reminders of war are all around us in Solomon Islands: in the remnants of war; in English and Japanese place names; and in the memories of Solomon Islanders.
This day gives us another chance to remember the sacrifice of those who fought here, those who served as coast-watchers, guides and bearers.
95 years on, the ANZAC spirit remains strong.
The special bond between Australia and New Zealand, and other Pacific countries, is seen in the numerous military operations and exercises around the world. Australia and New Zealand’s cooperation with our Pacific Partners in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands can be seen as a broader reflection of this spirit of “mateship”; bonding together to help a neighbour in need.
I end with the simple refrain that holds as much meaning today as it did at the very first ANZAC Day services: We will remember them.